House Agriculture Committee Debates, Passes Farm Bill Out of Committee
On Wednesday, April 18, after a tense five-hour markup hearing, the House Agriculture Committee passed H.R. 2 – the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, commonly referred to as the “Farm Bill” – purely along partisan lines. The bill will advance to the full House of Representatives to be considered.
The most contentious section of the Farm Bill was without a doubt the changes it proposes for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The Democratic members of the Committee were fervently opposed to provisions in the bill that expand work requirement to all work-capable adults aged 18-59 (with exemptions for people with disabilities or caretakers of children under age six) receiving SNAP benefits. Failure to comply with the work requirements would result in a 12-month ineligibility period for the first violation, and a 36-month ineligibility period for subsequent violations unless an individual obtains employment sufficient to meet the hourly requirement or is no longer subject to the work requirements. Democrats argued that the expanded work requirements would create giant bureaucracies at the state level and reduce and cut SNAP benefits for millions of people. However, Republicans on the Committee urged that the enhanced work requirements, which come with significantly greater funding for employment and training services, will lead to better futures and greater opportunities for SNAP recipients.
You can watch a recording of the hearing by clicking here. Committee Chairman Michael Conaway’s (R-TX) opening statement can be found here, and Ranking Member Collin Peterson’s (D-MN) opening statement can be found here.
The full text as well as a section-by-section summary of the Farm Bill can be accessed here.